WILMINGTON — While many participants in the Clinton County Common Pleas You-Turn Recovery Docket reached new milestones, one arrived in an inmate’s garb. And that one’s mother chastised addicts everywhere.
“I am a parent that in one night almost lost two members of my family,” said Betty “B.J.” Hottinger.
Hottinger said her two family members, who overdosed, chose to do drugs “one last time” because it was New Year’s Eve. She said no one forced them to and they were responsible, but they and other drug users should consider the ripple effect their actions have.
“Drugs do not just affect you people that are sitting there,” she said to the participants in the drug court program. “They affect your mothers, your fathers, your brothers, your sisters, your children.”
One of those family members was Stephanie Spencer, Hottinger’s daughter and a member of the drug court. Spencer arrived at court in the black and white garb of an inmate at the Clinton County Jail.
“The day after New Year’s, I almost lost two family members because of drugs,” Hottinger continued. “They are responsible for what they do. Nobody pulled a gun on them.”
Hottinger said drug users need to realize that drug use has a ripple effect on family, friends and community.
When Spencer overdosed, she had been clean for six months, and Hottinger said she’d never been so proud of her daughter.
“I have dealt with this drug issue for almost 20 years,” Hottinger said. “Everybody knows that this has been a battle and a half … with me and my daughter.”
Hottinger said she’s lost friends who told her to show Spencer “tough love” and to walk away from her daughter.
“That’s my kid over there, whether she’s doing right or she’s doing wrong,” Hottinger said. “She’s mine. I brought her into this world, and I’m not going to turn my back on her.”
“I am sick and tired of all the drug issue,” she continued. “I am sick and tired of looking at you people, sitting up there, destroying your precious lives that God blessed you with.
“Just think,” Hottinger implored. “You’ve got the time to do the thinking between the time you mix your dope, you put it in the needle, you pput the rubber on and you shoot the syringe into your arm. You’ve got that much time to say no and throw it aside.”
Rudduck thanked Hottinger for her words.
“I sit here every day dealing with this issue,” he said. “I can say that introducing drugs is a selfish act on their part because it affects people who care about you.”
Rudduck said sometimes drug users and addicts don’t have someone like Hottinger in their lives, which he said makes a difference.
“That is such a simple component of this program to let them know that there are people that care when they don’t have someone like you,” Rudduck said. “You spoke eloquently for a lot of families and friends.”
Spencer, who overdosed on heroin with her husband, was jailed by Clinton County Municipal Judge Mike Daugherty for violating probation. Her stay in jail ends at the end of January.
Rudduck said using drugs again almost cost her and her husband their lives.
“You can go down together, or you can recover together,” Rudduck said. “Look what it cost you – almost your life, almost your husband’s life.”
Spencer was doing well, Rudduck said, and had been ready to elevate her to the next phase until she relapsed. Rudduck said he believed she could still make progress.
“There’s a lesson all of you can learn from her,” Rudduck said. “We can learn from mistakes. … It’s whether we learn from them or just keep repeating.”
Most of the participants in the program reached a new phase of the program, which became a year old Friday.
Many participants said they struggled with a desire to use over the holidays.
Racheal Roberts told Rudduck that she struggles and misses using.
“I try to talk about it as much as I can to everybody” to overcome it, she said. “I’m just trying to get used to this life really.
“I’m grateful, and I like it a lot,” she continued. “But I do miss it. It’s what I’m used to.”
Rudduck said she’s learning how to handle those situations.
He also many don’t understand how hard it is to overcome addiction and encouraged her to speak out about it.
“That’s important that you struggle with that and know it and fight it,” he said. “Know when you’re vulnerable. … Call somebody.
“You’re getting it, though, that’s the important thing,” he continued. “Back in July, I don’t think you got it. I think you would have been in prison, frankly.”
Rudduck told the participants they should be proud of working to overcome addiction, saying “it’s hard work.”
David Key, Randall Kerns and Kaira Kintz reached the third phase of the program, the final phase before a participant can graduate.
Traey Rockhold and Tammy Barney entered the program’s second phase.
Sandra Lamb, Charley Ramirez, Roberts and Alyssa Meenach were entered into the first phase.
Jacob Odom and Emily Schalk attended their first meeting Friday, too.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.